A few weeks ago, I posted about the toothsoap from Rose of Sharon Acres. I fell in love with it but was bummed to learn that it’s not vegan.

Well guess what? It’s now available WITHOUT goat milk, in both peppermint and cinnamon flavors. Yay! Simply specify your preference in the notes to seller.

It’s available in both regular and sample sizes, so you don’t have to make a big commitment in order to give it a try. It’s a great product from a great family shop. I highly recommend it!

Yesterday, I found myself on How About Orange (via Modish). The blog is loaded with crafty tutorials (as well as time-wasters, rants, cool indie finds and more), and it got me thinking: why buy indie when I can make things myself?

I’ve had my eye on pretty much everything at Mi-Spa for a while now, and the web is loaded with soap, lotion and beauty-care products tutorials, ingredients are cheap, and I’m a pretty crafty person. So, though I much prefer to work with words and wire, decided to go for it.

The goal: some kind of body butter. I already had a jar of kokum butter that I’d bought from Mountain Rose Herbs because it was on sale (and because I love them). I had some almond oil in the medicine cabinet, some essential oils by my bed.

The recipe recommended using a double boiler, but I figured the microwave would work as well and would save me some effort. I moved everything into the kitchen. The project kept growing. I had to chisel the kokum butter out of the jar and into my little plastic container. It took forever to melt in the microwave, then spilled all over when I tried to whip in the almond oil (I did this with a fork, in the tiny container, to save myself from having to wash a stack of dishes), and on and on.

By the end of the project, I had a big mess on the counter, which I tried to mop up with my arms and legs so as not to waste my creation (didn’t work, though my new, slick kitchen did end up smelling good), and was really no closer to a home-spa than I’d been before I started.

I’m sure with patience and trial and error, I could get this right. I could. But why do it myself when I can buy indie? The result is a better product in a cute package, and I get to spend my creative energy in my own direction while supporting someone else in their passion. Sounds good to me.

Today’s interview is with Anissa from IndieShopping.com, a blog of fabulous finds and possibly the most comprehensive indie shopping directory out there.

This is one in a series of interviews with indie bloggers. You can find previous posts here:

Scoutie Girl
Goldschool
Awesome
Indie Fixx
Modish
Anything Indie
Miss Malaprop

Indieshopping.com’s reviews, articles and interviews have become quite an asset to the indie community. How did the website get its start?
Indieshopping.com got its start in February of 2005. I was also running my other site Femminastyle.com at the time, and in searching for places to advertise, I realized that there weren’t many affordable places for small indies to be featured.

Has it changed at all since you began? How?
When the site first started, it was primarily focused on the newsletter. Now most of the content is in the blog and we’ve added a lot of different features like the shopping directory, gift guides, Spotlight on Emerging Designers and monthly contests.

What has been your favorite thing about running indieshopping.com?
Just being able to help other small businesses in getting the word out about their products is great. I love receiving emails from people I have featured or who have advertised with the site. Knowing that my newsletter and/or blog is getting these artists and designers sales is a fantastic feeling!

What do you look for in the sellers you highlight?
I look for unique items, things that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Quality is also very important to me and a nice website that is easy to navigate is always a plus.

The indie community has many advantages over mega-retailers. Which do you feel is its strongest? Why?
The time and care that indie designers put into their work is by far the best aspect. The quality of their work, the little touches like packaging and handwritten notes, you will never get that kind of special treatment from a mega-retailer.

What is the biggest challenge we face?
I think the biggest challenge is getting your work noticed by consumers. It is getting easier though as more indie blogs and sites come on the scene. Plus there are a lot of online and print magazines that are now focusing on small businesses. N.E.E.T Magazine is one of my favorites. (more…)

For those of you who missed it in the comments, Doree from PinkQuartzMinerals added some great information to yesterday’s post about handmade mineral makeup.

She says:

Hi, thank you for including my company! I do care about my customer’s health! When choosing a mineral makeup, it is vital to check ALL ingredients. If a website or company does not list ingredients, pass by it because chances are they are not using only minerals.

It is also important to check for any ingredients that give the product a “shelf life”. The most common is cornstarch (zea mays), which is a food derived product, and therefore is not a good ingredient for mineral makeup as it can become contaminated, and go “bad”. Because cosmetics manufacturers are not required by law to put shelf life labels on cosmetic products, the consumer must be an informed buyer.

We offer mineral makeup samples at $1.00 each, and a great sample kit with larger samples! We also will custom mix your shade if you find after sampling that two or three shades mixed is your match! We don’t require you to buy every other month like some companies, and we want you to be happy with your products.

My samples are already on the way!  Which gives me an idea:

If you try these or any other indie cosmetics, and you’re so inclined, please email me a little review and maybe some before and after shots.  If I get enough replies, I’ll post another follow up on the blog with a special thanks to the reviewers.  Feel free to email me for details.

Mineral Makeup on Etsy

According to ewg.org‘s Skin Deep:

…the [U.S.] government cannot mandate safety studies of cosmetics, and only 11 percent of the 10,500 ingredients FDA has documented in products have been assessed for safety by the cosmetic industry’s review panel.

To help consumers better understand what they’re putting on (and ultimately into) their bodies, Skin Deep has created a searchable database of cosmetics, rated for health and safety, based on known and suspected toxic ingredients.

No surprise: the mega-retail brands don’t fare well. Among the worst rated brands are those marketed as fresh and healthy: Philosophy, Prescriptives, even Physicians Formula scores moderately-high on the warning scale.

But indie has a happy answer: mineral makeup. These products are completely free of the cosmetic industry’s top ten offending ingredients. The most common ingredients in handmade mineral makeup, as rated by Skin Deep, are: Iron oxide and titanium dioxide, which have a low toxicity rating, and zinc oxide and mica, rated low-moderate.

These Etsy sellers seem worth checking out; unlike the large cosmetic corporations, they actually seem to care about their customers’ health. Products include powder, foundation, eyeshadow and bronzer, among other things, and many sellers offer sample sizes so you can find your best shade.

Domaly
PinkQuartzMinerals
LushboxInc.
Divine Nature

Have you tried these? Other indie brands? Has your skin improved since switching? If so, please leave a comment and let us know!

For more information on the healthy beauty movement, visit: http://www.safecosmetics.org/


Today’s interview is with Jan DiCinto from Scoutie Girl, a blog full of indie finds with a fine-arts bent. Scoutie Girl is also Typepad’s featured blog for March 25, 2007. Want to know more about Jan and her blog? Read on…

This is one in a series of interviews with indie bloggers. You can find previous posts here:
Goldschool
Awesome
Indie Fixx
Modish
Anything Indie
Miss Malaprop

Scoutie Girl is becoming quite an asset to the indie community. How did it get its start?
Scoutie Girl is a melting pot of a few things for me: the many personal bookmarks I’ve made over the years when shopping for unique items, the indie designers with whom I’ve exchanged links for my own indie business and the desire to cross-promote all of the above. Plus, it’s much more efficient to send someone to Scoutie Girl for indie shopping ideas rather than sending 20 links in an email (which has happened too many times to count!).

Has it changed at all since you began? How?
Scoutie Girl is a new endeavor, which started in January of 2007. And believe it or not, in that short amount of time certain things have evolved! Initially, I thought I would only feature indie designers with their own ecommerce websites. But there are many, many online (and brick & mortar) boutiques selling/promoting the work of indie designers, too. Their belief in and preference for the indie designer should not go unnoticed, so I have added items from shops like this as well.

What has been your favorite thing about running Scoutie Girl?
Definitely the feedback from the designers about their posts. They’re *very* appreciative of the layout and descriptions used to promote their work, which is important to me. They also love the overall vibe of the blog and how it sets their work off in a professional light. Yay! As a business owner, I know which plugs have gotten Daisy Janie the most traffic that translated into sales…so I really try to optimize the posts based on that knowledge.

What do you look for in the sellers you highlight?
Top-notch execution and mind-blowing creativity are first b/c both of these suggest passion, dedication and a desire to be in business earning an income. Scoutie Girl has a definitive slant toward fine art (designers with degrees who may be established but are still in the realm of “indie”); my background as an artist propels me in this direction. And finally, I’m young at heart, but I’m heading into my 40s. What lit my candle 10-20 years ago is dramatically different now. Designs that transcend lifestage categorizations are very appealing to me. *All of the above are on a sliding scale of course! (more…)

Flickr Fridays – Etsy Look and Learn, originally uploaded by maile&justin, drawn from the Etsy Look and Learn pool.

Okay, so aesthetics might be lacking in this mosaic as a whole, but I really liked these items individually, so…

Arnie the Robot

Bird Tags

Frida Scarf Detail

Little Birds

Poppy Scarfaletta

Atomic Earrings: I saved these for last because I absolutely LOVE them! So simple, yet something in them speaks to me.